By: Brendan Gallagher
The city atmosphere was great to experience again. The fact that our group could
contribute to the people in the city was even better. We worked in various gardens across St. Louis, primarily the City Seeds Garden. We also worked at a garden connected to Clay Elementary School and got the opportunity to embark on a scavenger hunt with the kindergarten students of the school. The appreciation and excitement these children got from this unique experience was truly admirable. At City Seeds, we worked alongside a group of volunteers, former prisoners, recovering drug addicts, and recovering mental patients. This was a humbling experience and it also displayed the wide group of individuals that were contributing to the success of the community garden. Other gardens included a Jewish community center and a
combination of City Seed garden affiliates. Our assistance was fairly limited since we were only at each garden for a few hours a day, but the graciousness of the garden coordinators and hosts made the service that much more satisfying. It’s inspiring to see how common volunteering is at these gardening foundations, which makes the non-profit basis that much easier to maintain. After learning about the struggles with childhood obesity in the underprivileged areas in St. Louis where we aided, the positive impact of gardens heightened. We spent the week on a dinner budget relative to that of food stamps and all of us were able to further comprehend the difficulty of buying healthy food. The government food stamp allowance is underwhelming and forces many of these families to purchase junk food or quick meals rather than the healthier, more expensive foods like fruits and vegetables. The community gardens afford poverty-stricken families and those using food stamps access to fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost or in exchange for weekly volunteer hours.
After back to back weeks in areas riddled with poverty among other daily difficulties, I am gradually realizing the privileges and opportunities I usually take for granted. It certainly is rewarding and satisfying to assist these communities for a brief period, but it is more of a learning experience. Communities prosper from the unselfish members within, which I have witnessed on both the Cheyenne River Reservation and in the heart of Saint Louis. I am eager to continue the new cultural understanding and learning process this week in West Virginia